Women's hoops host Boston College after road loss against No. 25 Syracuse

Cavaliers look to contain Eagles' 3-point shooters in conference clash

Coming off a 12-point loss to No. 25 Syracuse, the Virginia women’s basketball team will face visiting Boston College Thursday evening, looking to regroup at home, where it is 9-1 this season.

The Orange got out to an early lead Sunday, entering halftime up 41-23 as Virginia (12-4, 2-1 ACC) shot a dismal 25.6 percent from the field. Meanwhile, Syracuse made eight of 18 from beyond the arc in the first half and 12 in total. The Cavaliers eventually recovered from early shooting woes, coming within nine in the second half — but the Orange offense could not be contained. Syracuse ultimately came away with a 70-58 victory.

"Syracuse ran a four-guard lineup, and we struggled with our posts," Virginia coach Joanne Boyle said. "We didn't hit shots early. They got transition going on us. We were never really settled. We made a couple of runs in the second half, but we had some defensive breakdowns and they pushed the lead back up."

Boston College (8-8, 0-3 ACC) heads to Charlottesville after also suffering a conference loss — 104-58 to Notre Dame — the second time this season the Eagles have allowed a team to score at least 90 points. The BC defense has given up an average of 72.9 points per game, last in the ACC, but the team has also hit the 90-point mark twice itself. A large portion of the Eagles’ scoring has come from the three-point line, where they make 8.5 shots a game — the best in the conference.

“[Boston is] very much a system team,” Boyle said. “They play four guards and a post player. They really spread the floor on you. We’re going to have our posts be able to guard the three-point line. We’ve got to able to take their three-point shooting away and to just sit down and guard, move our feet and execute against their zone because they will play a 2-3 zone most of the game.”

Sophomore guard Kelly Hughes has the most three-pointers for BC and also leads her team in almost every other statistical category — including rebounds, minutes played and points. Hughes may be able to lead the Eagles to their first winning season since the 2010-11 campaign, a year that ended with a WNIT loss to the Cavaliers.

The series between Boston College and Virginia has remained competitive, with the two teams trading wins in the past three seasons in both the regular and postseason.

“It kind of turned into a rivalry between BC and Virginia, so we know they’re going to come out and play,” junior guard Faith Randolph said. “We really want to do what we’ve been doing in practice and just really take things away from them because when they get really comfortable on offense, they start hitting.”

In three conference games, three different players have led the Cavaliers in scoring. Randolph averages 17.4 points a game but failed to reach that average in the first two games of conference play — though the team did light it up for 24 points against Syracuse.

“I felt we weren’t being aggressive,” Randolph said. “So, I really felt that I needed to be effective on offense and just believe in what I’ve been working on in the summertime, my preparation. I feel like I got back to that a little bit, finding my shot, and being confident in my shot.”

Sophomore guard Breyana Mason — who had 16 points in a 15-point win against Virginia Tech — and freshman guard Mikayla Venson, who scored the team’s last 10 points in a comeback win against Wake Forest, took Randolph’s place for the first two conference games.

But the two were not the only young players to step up when veterans were not playing at the top of their game. In the loss against Syracuse, freshman forward Lauren Moses posted 11 rebounds in the first half and 13 on the day, while the team’s leading rebounder, senior center Sarah Imovbioh, only had nine total.

“Lauren was inconsistent — she got into a lot of foul trouble,” Boyle said. “But I feel like she’s not fouling as much, so we’re able to keep her in a rhythm a little bit more in the game, and that’s important because she really needs to get a chemistry with Sarah.”

Tip-off Thursday is set for 7 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena.

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